There are all kinds of good reasons to get home broadband, but some older people may be reluctant. There might be concerns about online safety or cost, or the assumption that it's too complicated to get set up. Broadband Genie is here to help you and your family out with that.
If you're elderly and don't yet have broadband service, or you want to know how to choose a broadband deal for an elderly friend or relative, this guide can help set you on the right path.
Broadband deals for the elderly: the key points
Are there specific broadband deals for pensioners?
A few broadband providers offer special broadband deals for the elderly. These can deliver savings or provide useful extras, but that doesn’t always make them the best fit for you. Sometimes, more general offers make more financial sense, so shopping around is a must.
If you want a good idea of what’s available in your area, you can use our deals checker.
Broadband Genie deals checker
Just because a service is advertised as being suitable for seniors, doesn’t mean there aren’t better offers elsewhere! Quite often, your best bet is a normal, cheap broadband deal. Especially if you want to use the internet frequently or even make video calls.
If you're ready to buy now, here are some of the best cheap broadband deals currently available:
But if you are interested in a pensioner’s deal, then here are some we recommend:
BT Home Essentials
We're often asked, "do pensioners get BT Broadband for free?". Unfortunately, not. But BT does offer a cheap package called BT Home Essentials. This is a fibre optic, BT deal aimed at people on benefits, including:
- Income support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
- Universal Credit (who are on zero earnings)
While not specifically for pensioners and definitely not ‘free broadband’, it’s worth looking at if you need a discounted internet deal.
In the past, you might have heard of BT Basic and might be wondering if you can get that instead. But BT Basic has been closed to new customers. You can switch from Basic to Home Essentials if you’re on the older version.
Virgin Media Talk Protected
Virgin Media Talk Protected is the company’s commitment to freezing line rental for the elderly or disabled. It means that the price you pay when you sign up is the price you’ll pay throughout your time with the company. The deal also includes free calls to UK landlines and mobiles, too. This deal only includes line rental, however, so your package will cost more if you add on their full fibre broadband or TV services.
Still, Virgin Media is usually pretty expensive and is limited to certain locations. If this is available to you, and you can afford it, it can definitely be worth looking into.
Social broadband tariffs
Some broadband providers offer broadband deals for people on benefits, often known as social tariffs.
These provide cheaper internet service specifically for those receiving certain benefits, and this can include pensions.
It’s worth considering these options as well because they can be very good value — read our guide to broadband on benefits for further information and advice on these deals.
How do I compare broadband deals?
If this is your first time comparing broadband deals and tariffs, it may seem daunting to start with. But don’t let that put you off.
Switching broadband is much like switching energy providers, or shopping around for cheap insurance.
Think about what you need and the features most important to you or your elderly friend or relative, and then find a deal that fits your requirements at the right price.
Here's how to best compare broadband deals:
- How much are you online? Think about how long you spend on the phone each month and how long you spend online.
- How are you using the internet? If you’re just browsing or checking social media and email every now and then, go for the cheapest deal you can get. Activities like streaming video are a lot more demanding, so it’ll be beneficial to get a fibre broadband package.
- How many people use the internet in your home? The more people sharing the broadband, the faster it’ll need to be. Read our guide to easy guide to broadband speeds for more help in understanding things like average download speeds.
- Do a broadband comparison search. Use Broadband Genie's deals checker. Enter the address you need broadband for, and look through all the deals. Don't forget to make use of the filters to hone down packages that are the most relevant.
- Click on a deal and follow the registration steps.
- Wait for your broadband to go live!
Once you've signed up for a deal, the provider should confirm by email and give you an estimated date for your service to begin.
If an engineer needs to visit, they'll confirm a date and time for that too. Typically, you’ll have to wait around two weeks between the date you signed up to the date your connection goes live. You can learn more about the activation process in our dedicated broadband installation guide.
Here are a few things to look out for when shopping around for broadband:
Older users can sometimes need a little extra help setting everything up. Fortunately, the customer service representatives of your broadband provider are there to do just that. If you think you may need that extra help, look to see the main operating hours of the customer service helpline. They’ll usually be there when you need them most!
Take a look at our 'best customer service broadband deals' page for a little bit of help understanding who offers the best technical and personal support.
Price is essential when choosing any product or service, and that’s no different when it comes to broadband. Assessing whether the broadband package is good value for money is another matter. Once you know how often you’ll use your phone and broadband, you can use that to decide whether any deal is good for you or not. Also, keep an eye out for any upfront costs as well as the monthly price when comparing deals.
We make it easy to factor in all the secrets extras with our 'effective monthly cost' information. You'll find this if you click on the 'offer details and pricing' arrow.
Some broadband contracts are for one month, some for 12 months and others might ask you to sign up for 18 months or even longer. Generally, the longer the agreement, the less it will cost you. Choose a contract length to suit you. Longer contracts may be cheaper, but you’re then with that provider for more than a year, and early cancellation can be expensive.
If you use your landline regularly, then having inclusive calls with your broadband deal is smart. Many will offer phone deals with free evening and weekend calls as part of the package, but some may charge on a pay-as-you-use basis. You can also opt to upgrade to anytime calls or international calling. If you use your home phone a lot, make sure to check what you get for your money!
The majority of deals for elderly customers offer fairly average broadband speeds for fibre.
Most elderly people would be happy with a basic fibre package. You can do your browsing and email, but you’ll also be able to stream TV and also give any guests the opportunity to as well. It could be great if you ever have family come over to stay.
As with all fibre deals, we recommend you get unlimited fibre. Truly unlimited broadband means that there are no limits on your broadband. You can read our guide on unlimited broadband here.
Which are the best broadband providers for pensioners?
In selecting the best broadband providers for pensioners, we looked at the Broadband Genie Awards. If a company scored well for value, customer service and quality, we regard it as a suitable provider for older users.
In 2023, Plusnet was the only broadband provider who scored in the top 5 for all three categories.
What about line rental?
Even though you may be looking for a broadband connection, most broadband packages include line rental for a landline phone. This is usually because the landline is required for internet access.
If you'd prefer the internet without a phone service, then a broadband only deal can give you internet with a landline but without inclusive calls.
Increasingly, more providers are giving you the option for a fully digital broadband service, so you don't have to pay line rental at all if you don't need a phone.
Just remember, if you need any healthcare or medical alarms such as panic buttons, pendants or communications consoles, you'll need to keep a working phone line.
We have more information about this in our guide to line rental.
An inclusive call plan is recommended if you’re going to use the phone regularly, as you’ll avoid charges for individual calls.
Many broadband deals include inclusive calls and others offer it as a premium extra. If you don’t want those inclusive calls when you sign up but need them later, you can often add them to your account whenever you like.
Inclusive calls are useful if you use the phone a lot or like to keep your bill predictable. If you make phone calls that fall under the inclusive call allowance, your monthly bill should always be the same!
How do I prove eligibility for an elderly broadband deal?
You may need to have a credit check when you go for a broadband deal of any kind. As frustrating as they can be, this is pretty typical when you sign up to a service like this. If you’re worried you won’t pass a credit check, then we do have deals for broadband without credit checks.
Some of the deals for elderly customers are offered due to certain benefits you’re receiving. If this is the case, then providers may ask for your details and national insurance number to ensure you’re on these benefits. This shouldn’t take too long; just make sure that the channels you’re being contacted through are legitimate.
How is broadband installed?
We mentioned earlier that after you have signed up for broadband, a couple of things will happen. You should receive an email confirmation, and an engineer may be scheduled to visit. The process goes something like this:
- You sign up for your broadband contract and pay the first month plus any setup costs.
- You receive an email confirmation telling you what you have bought.
- You'll be contacted within a few days to schedule your broadband activation.
- An engineer may visit to install your connection if you don’t already have the structure.
- Your internet should be live on the date quoted by your provider.
An engineer may visit to connect you to the internet. In some cases, they might need to come into your house. The company should tell you well in advance and arrange a suitable time. Even if the engineer doesn’t need to work in your house, you’ll need to be home to sign a form to say they have connected you and everything works.
Don’t sign anything until the engineer has shown you that your internet is live, and you have tested it. It could take some time for them to return if it doesn’t work correctly!
If an engineer isn’t required, you’ll be expected to do a DIY install. All this should involve is plugging in a Wi-Fi router, and maybe a separate modem, on the day the broadband is activated. If you're not sure about this, the customer service team will be able to guide you through it.
There are certainly deals you can get for broadband if you’re elderly. BT Home Essentials is one of the best to go with if you’re going down that route. There are other deals you can get as well, so feel free to check out our guide on getting broadband on benefits. However, a basic fibre broadband deal is often cheap enough on their own, and you’ll have more options, including Sky Broadband and Plusnet.
If you’ve not had broadband before, whichever provider you go with, you may need structure installed. The provider can check this for you. If it’s necessary, they’ll book the engineer’s visit. Just make sure someone is at home. If the structure is there, it should be as simple as plugging the router they send you into the phone line.
One final word. If you're setting up a broadband connection for an elderly friend or relative, please encourage them to read through our 'broadband scams guide'.
Why do we need your address?
We need your address to show you the broadband deals available at your home. This information is gathered in partnership with thinkbroadband.